Technology and Libraries

It’s easy to think of libraries simply as repositories full of books, but did you know there is actually a lot of technology that is involved as well? Technology is an important part of every library, and here at special collections we use technology every day. As a CLIR CCEPS fellow I am not just working with books and documents, I have to use a variety of technology. It’s easy to imagine the kinds of technology that the CLIR Water Project uses in digitizing documents and publishing them on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. In fact, many of us have written about our experiences using technology to scan documents, create metadata, and upload documents.

Still, I think it is important to recognize the hardware and software that is a vital part of our daily lives here at special collections. Thinking about the technology we use is also a good way of breaking down the entire process we go through to get documents onto the Claremont Colleges Digital Library.

The first step is to find and check out a document we want to digitize. Each document or book in special collections has a call number, and just like in the rest of the library, we use the call number to locate and check out an item. CLIR CCEPS fellows use Aeon just like any special collections user. If you are interested in getting access to an item from special collections you can create an Aeon account here:

Next we have to digitize the document. As we’ve previously written about, there are three kinds of hardware we use to capture a digital image of the document: the flat scanner, the book scanner, and the camera. However, to digitize the items we also need software. When using the flat scanner or book scanner we use Adobe Acrobat and the scanner’s software to create PDFs. When using the camera we have to use a variety of software including Capture One, Adobe Photoshop, and finally Adobe Acrobat to convert the photograph to a PDF. We use Capture One and Adobe Photoshop to adjust white balance and generally ensure that the image properly represents the original physical document.

Then we must create metadata before we upload the item to the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. To do this we use the software CONTENTdm, which I learned how to use this week. So far it is an easy way to track metadata for single documents as well as commonly used terms in particular collections to help guide users. After the metadata for the item is completed it is ready to be uploaded, but don’t ask me what technology is required for that step because I haven’t learned how to do that yet!